This article joins a growing chorus of researchers who doubt the utility of the concept of peer pressure for explaining young people's initiation to and use of drugs. Drawing on interview data with 45 patrons of a youth drop-in centre in Ottawa, Canada, we argue that drug use is more intricately woven into friendship - affective relationships of trust and intimacy, belonging and sharing - rather than simply part of the unidirectional pressures some young people put on others to fit in to a subculture. Marginalized young people's narratives show that drugs and alcohol furnish them with a relatively inexpensive pastime to share with friends, introducing opportunities for intimacy that are otherwise difficult to attain at the individualistic and isolating margins of neoliberal cities. We demonstrate how young drug users draw boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable relationships to drugs and alcohol, articulating an important sense of belonging to a superior group of drug users. Through this 'borderwork', they solidify the bonds they share with the people with whom they smoke cannabis and drink alcohol.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Borderwork, Drug use, Friendship, Poverty, Qualitative, Young people
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2012.12.005
Journal International Journal of Drug Policy
Citation
Foster, K. (Karen), & Spencer, D. (2013). 'It's just a social thing': Drug use, friendship and borderwork among marginalized young people. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24(3), 223–230. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2012.12.005